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Peter Douglas Kennedy

Peter Douglas Kennedy (18 November 1922 – 10 June 2006) was an English collector of folk songs in the 1950s. Peter's father, Douglas, was EFDSS director after Cecil Sharp. Peter's mother, Helen, was the sister of Cecil Sharp's amanuensis Maud Karpeles.[1]


Kennedy was one of the presenters of the BBC folk music programme As I Roved Out, broadcast during the 1950s which featured collecting recordings of traditional singers. Together with Alan Lomax, and assisted by Shirley Collins he went on to edit "Folk Songs of Britain", a ten volume series of sound recordings, originally published in the USA on Caedmon Records from 1961 onwards, and later in the UK on Topic Records in 1968.

Some of the titles in this series were re-issued on CD by Rounder in 2000. A curious, and frequently criticised[2] feature of these albums is that songs are often presented by splicing together recordings of two or more singers. Kennedy also founded the record label Folktrax, issuing his own recordings on cassette, and later CD. His book Folk Songs of Britain and Ireland (London: Cassell, 1975) gave both the tunes and the words to 360 traditional songs, as well as brief notes about their origins, and references to other collected versions.

Kennedy's work raised some controversy amongst the folk music community. After his death, the magazine Musical Traditions[3] went so far as to draw up a list of opinions for and against Peter's legacy. The number of items against him is 28; in favour, 8. For some people he appeared exploitative and difficult to deal with, but his scholarship was rarely questioned.

Peter Kennedy ArchiveEdit

The Peter Kennedy archive is now held at the British Library.[4] Topic Records have issued 6 albums of his recordings in their The Voice of the People series of compilations and 3 albums partially selected from his recordings including It was mighty - The Early Days of Irish Music in London.

Folk musicians recorded by KennedyEdit


  1. ^ Association for Cultural Equity Website, Peter Kennedy Biography Accessed 14 July 2015
  2. ^ Harry Cox: What Will Become of England? (CD review of Rounder 1839 by Mike Yates) Musical Traditions, 23 March 2000
  3. ^ Peter Kennedy - an appraisal, Musical Traditions, 14 September 2006
  4. ^ "Peter Kennedy Collection at the British Library, online". Retrieved 16 March 2016.

External linksEdit